Analyzing Your Dreams
Most people have at some point in their lives have woken up and remembered a dream. While some people remember their dreams much more clearly and more often than others, most of us can remember at least some time when we've had a dream that we would like to better understand.
We may wake up asking ourselves a variety of questions such as:
What did this dream mean?
Should I be worried about this?
Is this a warning of something yet to happen; a sort of premonition?
Does this dream mean I need to address some unresolved issue?
Is this the answer I've been looking for?
Understanding Your Dreams
In order to understand your dreams you have to first put your dream into context. You are a unique person and as a result you will have unique dreams. Your dreams may be similar to those of someone else, but they will never be exactly the same. Even if the content is the same, the emotional overlay and the meaning may be very different. The symbols and events in your dreams may not always refer to what seems like the most obvious or simplest explanation.
While other people can offer suggestions and ideas about what your dreams mean you are in fact in the best position to determine their true meaning. You have access to information about your life that literally nobody else on Earth has. That information can be vital to understanding your dreams, particularly because dreams frequently involve glimpses into the unconscious and parts of yourself that you probably don't frequently share with others.
Questions to Ask Yourself
In trying to understand your dreams you can ask yourself some questions. When doing so try to consider not just the literal answers but also the emotional response you have to the questions.
Am I currently struggling with a decision?
Am I feeling anxious or nervous about something coming up?
Am I frustrated about something or by someone?
Am I looking forward to and excited about anything?
Is there any relationship I'm in, want to be in, or avoiding that's been on my mind lately?
Is there an issue that I know I need to deal with but have been putting off?
Have I recently received any news?
Is there anyone or anything that I haven't thought about for years until recently?
Are there any changes that have just happened or are about to happen in my life?
What's happening in the lives of those around me (family, friends, etc.)?
Am I dealing with any deadlines or pressures?
Have I recently or am I about to celebrate anything?
This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but it's designed to get you thinking in the right direction. Your dreams typically tie into events in your life or the lives of those around you. They can be events from the past, things you're currently dealing with, whether good or bad, and/or hopes, fears, and concerns about the future.
There are a number of dream dictionaries available online that you can use. You may find some of these useful, but at the same point be careful about putting too much stock into what they say. If you have a dream that has one large and overriding theme, it may be worth looking up that theme up in a dream dictionary. But it probably won't be too useful to look up each and every piece of your dream. Doing so will likely cause you more confusion that understanding.
Two Sample Dreams & Analyses
I dreamt that my room was on fire. I was screaming and crying out for help. My parents weren't around, but then my boyfriend came in through the window and put the fire out. He was holding a large hose and spraying water all over. He put out the flames, picked me up, and with a smile we jumped out the window together.
-16 year old female
This young girl's dream (like most dreams) may have a number of different meanings. When the fire struck, her parents were not around to protect her... but her boyfriend was. This could mean that she and her parents do not have a very good relationship. Her boyfriend not only rescued her but took her out of the window. This could mean that she is having thoughts about wanting to get away from her family.
The dream may also refer to the relationship that she wants from her boyfriend. He may not be the most chivalrous guy around, but she may be an old-fashioned girl looking for her night in shining armor to come rescue her and sweep her off her feet. She may be hoping that he will declare his love to her such as by risking his life to save hers in a large romantic gesture.
This dream could also be sexual in nature. At age sixteen, our bodies are still adjusting to the flood of hormones that come with puberty. The fact that the fire was in her bedroom could speak to where she wants the "action" to take place. The fire could be a metaphor for the heat and the passion that she wants to envelop and surround her. Her boyfriend's hose in this interpretation could also be a metaphor. At the end of the dream when he picks her up and smiles, she could be dreaming about cuddling with him as opposed to having a one night stand where a sexual partner might get up and leave immediately afterwards. When he does leave, it's only with her by his side.
Only the person who actually had this dream could tell us for certain what that dream meant. Those who know her can certainly provide some ideas such as the ones offered here. But this young girl has a perspective; an understanding of herself that nobody else has. That understanding is critical in determining the real meaning of her dream.
I had this dream that I was climbing a ladder up into the clouds. I was scared because it was really high up and I've never been that high up before. Looking up, I was really drawn to the clouds and wanted to keep climbing. I kept pushing even though I got more anxious with each step. When I finally reached the clouds I was sad.
-48 year old male
Like the last dream, this one has multiple potential meanings. The man began the dream by climbing up a ladder. The ladder may represent his career, a relationship, his spiritual life, or anything about himself that he's working on or trying to improve. Because he's moving up the ladder and not down we can reasonably assume that his goal is one that he views positively.
The bottom of the ladder could be an old relationship, his current job, or a problem he may currently have such as a gambling addiction. By comparison the top of the ladder may be a new relationship, a new job, or the end of his addiction. Even though he knows that the top of the ladder is a good thing, he's nervous. He knows that the path to the clouds isn't a simple one. He'll have to work at it in order to lift himself up one rung at a time.
He can't help but look down, look back at where he came from and feel something holding him back down. That "anxiety with each step" or that force holding him back may be the idea of breaking up with his current girlfriend, leaving his current job that he's had for over 20 years, or the addictive nature of his gambling problem. He knows that he should be moving up, but it's a new experience.The fact that "I've never been that high up before" makes it's scary.
When he finally got up to the top of the clouds in his dream, he was sad. Why would this be if he was looking forward to moving up towards the clouds? This surprise sadness may be a reflection of a fear he has that things won't be as good as he hopes if and when he reaches his goal. He may be having second thoughts about taking a new job or ending an old relationship. What if the new job or the new relationship isn't as good as the old one? Obviously there were things pushing him away from the old job or relationship, but there's no guarantee that the next one will be better. If it's not better, or if it's worse, crawling back to your old job or relationship can be humiliating.
If the man is struggling with a gambling problem the sadness may be a sign that even though he's been "clean" or avoided gambling successfully for a certain amount of time, things are not as great as he had hoped they would be. Addictions are ongoing struggles that people deal with for life. While the fight may get easier, the temptations never fully go away. This man may be realizing that things are not going to be as easy going forward as he had hoped. He may be realizing that there will always be those temptations to gamble again.
Like both of the dreams described above, your dreams may have multiple possible interpretations. Only the man above can tell us if he's pursuing a new job or a new relationship. Only the girl above can tell us what her relationship with her parents is like or what kind of relationship she wants to have with her boyfriend.
Likewise, you know yourself best and are in the best position to analyze your dreams. It certainly helps to have someone else to share your dreams with and offer suggestions that you may not have initially considered or thought of on your own. This is especially true when you share your dreams with someone that knows you personally and can offer personally relevant ideas. But even someone who doesn't know you personally can often suggest a possible interpretation. Even if someone's interpretation is not quite right, it might still help you to come closer to understanding your dream.